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History-Political Science

Applicable for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Advisers: Professors GRACE, LINDAU, MURPHY, and WILLIAMS

The capacity to reflect upon and to practice politics in a thoughtful and substantive way in the present is ultimately impossible without historical understanding of particular places or issues. Similarly, the practice of historical inquiry is continuously informed by questions and concerns arising from our understanding of the present. Students who major in History-Political Science use the approaches of both political science and history to interrogate the relationship between past and present and to cultivate an understanding of enduring moral, social, and political problems as well as a rich appreciation of the diversity and complexity of human experience. Courses also focus on developing intellectual, analytical, and rhetorical skills. Students will work with advisors in both departments to actively shape and develop their focus as they progress through the joint major

Major Requirements

Entrance into the Major

Students may enter the major by taking the appropriate introductory course in either History or Political Science. In History, that course is HY 110 Encountering the Past. First-Year Foundation courses in the History Department may also serve as entry. In Political Science, students must take one of: PS 200 United States Politics and Government; PS 236 Introduction to Comparative Politics; PS 209 Introduction to International Relations or PS 225 Conduct of American Foreign Policy; PS 290 Introduction to Political Philosophy.


Students must then take five units in each department. The introductory course counts as one of the five units for the department in which it was taken.

In Political Science, at least four of these courses must be in the same subfield (either US Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, or Political Philosophy) and at least one course at the 300 level.

In History, the five units will comprise HY110 or equivalent first-year course in the History Department, HY399, either an additional 300-level course or HY410, and two electives of the student’s choosing.

The History-Political advisors may approve credit toward the major for other special or advanced courses when appropriate to a student’s concentration. “Topics” courses in both history and political science are examples. Approval must be sought prior to taking such a course. Subject to approval, one course from a study abroad program may count toward the five units in History, and another toward Political Science.

Students who intend to major in History-Political Science must propose, subject to the approval of the advisors and the chairs of each department, a coherent program of study. Majors must consult with a History-Political Science advisor in order to declare the major.

Language Requirement

Through the second year or the equivalent in a language appropriate to the program of study.


Students must complete HY/PS 330 Colloquium in History/Political Science in their junior year. This course cannot count as one of the five courses in either department.

Capstone Requirement

At least one unit of advanced research: either HY 420 Senior Essay, or the tutorial in the chosen subfield area in political science.


Any History–Political Science major may apply to write a thesis instead of taking the unit of advanced research, subject to the approval by advisors in both departments. A student must submit a proposal to both departments outlining the subject and identifying general sources by the beginning of Block 8 of the junior year, or at the beginning of Block 1 of senior year if the student is off campus junior year. The thesis should be interdisciplinary in nature and include the use of primary materials.


 Students who maintain a 3.7 GPA in the major through Block 7 of senior year may be considered for Distinction in History/Political Science. Thesis students who wish to be considered for distinction must submit completed thesis by the last day of Block 7 of senior year. 

Any potential HY-PS major must consult with one of the HY-PS advisors in order to declare, and majors should anticipate regularly working with advisors in both departments. 

Last updated: 01/15/2021